In a comment on his blog recently, William writes:
“Joe is [working to reshape things you object to in the existing Integral model, and I admire… that] with his STEAM project…”
And my reply in a comment box here, edited:
Hey thanks, I appreciate that, William.Just one note, though. STEAM is mainly a different acronym for AQAL (the label for Wilber’s integral theory). It’s a teaching device and memory aid. In the future, I may choose to differentiate it from AQAL if the need arises, but currently don’t seen the need. In choosing to work with my own acronym, I was also motivated by a desire to keep control of the creative direction of my work.
My criticisms of AQAL are offered from within the AQAL framework, by attempts to enhance its usefulness, completeness, and adequacy. For example, as part of my most serious critique, I have published a diagram describing my theory of “gayness,” a concept not in Wilber’s theory, and showing how it relates to the four prime drives of holons. I am building, or trying to build, within the AQAL framework. The critique of Wilber’s published model is thoroughgoing, but largely implicit. It says implicitly: “Look, here’s what was missing in Wilber’s theory, and it didn’t need to be, so here’s how I’ve enhanced it in this context.” I don’t always phrases this as “Wilber’s theory is flawed because it doesn’t explicitly mention ‘gayness’ as a holonic tenet, and therefore it needs to be replaced with STEAM,” because that sort of deny and exclude approach isn’t necessary. Nor would I say, “Wilber hasn’t demonstrated how AQAL is totally adequate to producing a solution for the gay marriage issue, so therefore the theory has no practical use.” I’ve worked to flesh out the uses of the theory and test them to see if they work. Wilber’s theory is not intended to be 100% complete or perfect. It can be supplemented, and he encourages people with more specialized knowledge and experiences to do so, and as I see it, that’s the sort of critique I have been able to offer and continue to do so. I think it’s by far the most common form of criticism in the integral community.
In contrast, others commonly take approaches to critique that are more deconstructive. Traditionalists say it’s not in the Bible, rationalists want rational proof, pluralists think it’s phallocentric, that sort of thing. In my opinion, most such critiques are first-tier (citing problems from the perspective of one specific first-tier value sphere), as opposed taking to a systematic approach. Such criticisms may be right or wrong, and they may shed light on many useful directions, but they are not working from within the integral/AQAL framework.